Newbie, advice needed.

Have no idea what kind/size etc of kayak or canoe I might need, so let me tell you how it will be used.

I live near the ocean off the pacific coast. (eureka, ca to be exact)outside my house is the slough that goes throughout the area and eventually makes its way to the bay and then of course the ocean.

Im looking for something that I can paddle (or even attach a small electric motor if feasible) to navigate through the sloughs. Since the depth of the slough is determined by the tide, it needs to be able to navigate fairly shallow water if possible (dont want to get stuck somewhere if the tide gets too low) as well as very manueverable, due to the tight channels of the slough.

It needs to be very stable, as Im going to use it to explore the slough’s and take pictures of wildlife, so it will have some camera gear on board.

Lastly, I really dont want a inflatable, as feel it would be easier to transport a rigid hull design, but im open to anything.

Lastly, cost is not a criteria, so im open in price range.

Any suggestions are welcome.


– Last Updated: Jan-23-10 10:42 PM EST –

I have 2 pieces of advice:

1) The kayak is less important than the person in it. Find a good local coach/instructor and get some lessons relevant to the type of water you plan to paddle on. If you can't afford, or don't want, formal lessons, find a local paddling club, borrow some boats, and learn from doing with knowledgeable paddlers. Either way, the knowledge gained will serve you a lot better than impersonal and partially informed suggestions from the web.

2) The issues involved in paddling tidal waters may involve more than varying depth. Tidal currents, turbulence from flows over underlying irregularities or converging currents, eddies, and the effects of wind and currents in combination can put unwary paddlers into dicey situations. Knowledge is useful and will make your outings more pleasant and safer.

You described a Kruger Sea Wind

– Last Updated: Jan-23-10 11:12 PM EST –

or a Clipper Sea 1.The Sea 1 is made close to you and probably more available.

There are many,many boats that will do the job.

Go here

They are in Eureka, look like they can set you up decently on basics and get you out on some guided tours to get the feel of things. I agree with the above - from what I saw on the map you could be underestimating the seriousness of the tidal water there.

Or check out Adventure’s Edge (, a retailer in Arcata

But starting with lessons is definitely the recommended way to start. Learn the skills, which can be transferred to any boat. And while doing o, you get to try different boats and decide what will work for you.

You didn’t give any info on your ability, so it is hard for anyone to suggest a canoe/or kayak for you. Your best bet would be to get to a outfitter that lets you try out differnt canoes and kayaks and try some out.

There are many outfitters that are set up for that.

Another option is to look around for a club in your area, and see if some of the members will let you try out their boats.

I can only add, that if you will be paddling in the ocean, or where the water can be rough, forget about a canoe and get a kayak.



2 cts worth…
Hi…1st …if you want stability for a camera platform, you are probably looking at boats in the 30" Width for max stability, and probably in the 12’-14’ foot range. the problem may be though, boats in that width are rec boats and not the most manuverable by kayak standards,and not suited for fast, rough waters. How big do you want the cockpit opening to be? are you using a tripod? monopod? how much gear are you going to carry? how easily do you need access to that gear? most every company makes a rec boat with a large cockpit opening. you could buy a boat with a rudder to help handling , but rudders aren’t much good in shallow water and they are scraping bottom. It doesn’t do much good to recommend a particular boat either if that boat is not available to you. Think about what you need it to do and how your going to use it and the boat you need will show itself. Talk to a dealer and test paddle if possible. another thing to consider is weight , if $$$ is not a issue , then a composite boat may be to your liking, like the Hurricane brand kayaks for one. good luck

It won’t paddle very well
but the Mokai runs between 10-15 mph with a jet drive (no propellor) and will traverse very shallow water. A friend has one and loves it.

thanks for all the replies. I should have left some info about myself and my experience level, but thanks for the recommendations on lessons etc. I may go down and rent a kayak or canoe and try it out as well.

Most of the channels around my home are slow moving, without any surge or waves. Were talking areas that go down to less than 5’ wide and up to a max of 20’ wide or so. Im also familiar with water conditions,(currents, tides, etc) as I spend a considerable amount of time doing recreational and technical diving.

I am not looking for anything for open water, simply these small sloughs and possibly a local lagoon.

At this point, im really liking the Mokai someone recommended. I just need to see if its possible to row manually since I will want the silence of not having the engine running. other than that, and the fact its a bit heavy for a one man operation (i dont plan on using a boat ramp, Im going to simply walk it across the road and insert right on the bank.)

Thanks for all the replies. It has been helpful.

Huki outrigger canoe
That’s the only craft I have paddled in the Mad River Slough into Arcata/Humboldt Bay. It did fine, and I ended up paddling with two retired ladies from Arizona who were working at a trailer park up in Trinidad.

Which brings me to my highjack.

The iakos are the aluminum rods that connect the main hull of the outrigger canoe to the outrigger hull (the ama).

We took out of the slough at LOW tide. I put the iakos down on the rocks at the shoreline. Helped the ladies carry their kayaks up to the road, loaded my outrigger on the magic bus, and drove 100 miles into the Trinity Alps – beginning my 5500 mile paddling journey back home to Connecticut.

At about 8pm I realized I had no iakos, and hence my canoe was useless. So I drove 100 miles back in the dark to the slough take-out.


My iakos, if they were still there, were under water. It was almost midnight.

I waded into the water and turned on my flashlight. A big severed fish head stared back at me. But I saw the iakos stuck between the rocks under three feet of water.

Whew! Got them back. Never made that mistake again.

Huki is in Sacramento.

Be different. Be daring. Be an outrigger paddler.

lessons & wits
Any kayak and canoe will have a shallow draft. Find a local kayak dealer and take lessons (e.g. and get a feel for what others use and what you might want in a kayak yourself. For paddling in a slough a rec boat will do. For paddling into the surf, a rec boat is entirely unsuitable. You don’t want to go out on the ocean though until you have had lessons and built up your skill base anyway.

Re getting stuck on mud flats: Kayaks get stuck on a falling tide. Get tide tables and don’t get stuck on a falling tide.

Happy paddling!

Consider an inflatable.
Innova or Sea Eagle.

If cost isn’t much problem
then I recommend the Kruger too.

Go Native!
I started kayaking last year. My brother and I took a couple of beginner lessons. The 1st lesson the guy went over getting the proper fit with your PFD, how to get in & out of the yak, strokes, the basics. I learned from each lesson & would strongly recommend this for anyone. I bought a Native Manta Ray 14 SOT. These yaks are known for their stability, manuerverability and tracking. It will float in very shallow water and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

rowing is better for beginners
If you don’t mind the facing backwards part you’ll go farther faster and handle rougher water sooner with a row boat.

2nd the Manta Ray
The 14 footer is a little heavy, but otherwise a great boat for what you are looking for.